Monday, August 12, 2013

2013 Season Countdown: #17 Jack Miller

Jack Miller
Name: Jack Miller
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 290 lbs.
High school: Perrysburg (OH) St. John's
Position: Center
Class: Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: #60
Last year: I ranked Miller #42 and said he would be the backup center. He played in six games as the backup center.

Ricky Barnum was supposed to be Michigan's center going into the 2012 season, but the coaches made a last-minute switch in August practice and put Elliott Mealer there; the reason was reported to have been Mealer's snapping ability. That snapping ability was significant, because I don't remember a single bad snap all season. Unfortunately, the blocking was subpar. Miller played tackle in high school, but he's been almost exclusively playing center since he got to campus in 2011. As the starting center in the spring game, Miller had some trouble identifying who to block, but he did a solid job when indecision didn't get in his way.

The competition for the center position appears to be pretty close between Miller and redshirt sophomore Graham Glasgow. Brady Hoke and Al Borges consistently mention the battle, and a Media Day picture of the starting offensive line included two offensive tackles, two offensive guards, and . . . the two centers. It's unclear how the position will play itself out. Glasgow is 6'6", 303 lbs. and somewhat immobile. Snapping ability aside (because what outside observer really knows?), it looks like a battle between mobility and size. Usually, a guy with Glasgow's size is too big to be a legitimate option at center, but we'll see. I have expected Miller to win the job, but either way, I have a feeling the center position is going to be a little bit of an adventure this season.

Prediction: Starting center


  1. I've been critical, skeptical, doubtful of Miller for what feels like a long time. I'm really hoping he proves me wrong this year because if our center can competently snap and block that's going to be extremely helpful.

  2. Good info as always - but wanted to let you know that his HS, St. Johns is in Toledo, not Perrysburg.

    1. I think it just refers to the fact that he lived in perrysburg but went to St. John's. it says the same thing in the Michigan programs at the games.

    2. That's dumb. They shouldn't list a kid's High School as associated with his Hometown. Means it's incorrect in the programs as well.

      I'm guessing we didn't list Charles Woodson's High School as Fremont (since that was his hometown) when the High School was Fremont Ross.

      Get it right people!

  3. I think this is the biggest weak spot on our OL, if miller were a superstar he would have won the job last year vs an unimpressive Mealer. Glascow seems too tall at 6'6 to provide a legitamite option at center. How will he get leverage vs shorter dts. Next year i think kugler wins the starting job, bosch enters the lineup, braden moves over, kalis plays either g or t depending in who the 5th guy is. Any chance you think we burn Kuglers rs and he gets a chance to compete for thr starting C job this year?

    1. Seniority matters a ton, especially to this coaching staff, it seems. Miller was only a redshirt freshman last year, so this really isn't a big deal.

      There's this thing called "bending your knees" Glasgow is tall, but his pad level must be at least decent if he's competing this hard with Miller. There's a mental aspect here, too...Miller is perhaps still in the process of learning how to call the blocking assignments, which is arguably an easier problem to solve than physical prowess at this stage.

      I seriously doubt Kugler burns his redshirt. He's coming off surgery and OL almost always redshirt. Besides that, I think your lineup prediction is pretty accurate.

    2. Very unlikely that they burn Kugler's redshirt unless he's phenomenally good right off the bat (which isn't all that likely) or Miller and Glasgow both get injured and the coaching staff is desperate. I think Kugler will be a prime candidate to start next year, though.

  4. I'd say Miller not even being in the mix last year is a big deal. He had a year internship under Molk (they spent a lot of time together), and then could not even whiff the field behind UM's worst starting center in 30 years. Glasgow may be too tall at 6'6", but Mealer was a legit 6'5" and the coaches still plugged him in there as a stop gap.

    I agree that Miller gets the nod to start the season (CMU and ND). Depending upon how he does the first couple games, the coaches will decide whether to give a serious look to other candidates against Akron and UConn. The fact that the coaches keep pumping up a walk-on and that Hoke mentioned Kugler as a possible contributor this season means that the coaches are not comfortable with the center position at all.

  5. There are certain types of red flags that appear over and over again, and people need to be adept at recognizing them. A few of these have been noted above.

    When Mealer took over the C position last year at the last minute, after Ricky Barnum had long been expected to play it, that was a red flag. Barnum clearly couldn't cut it, which was why he was replaced. But Mealer couldn't have been that good, or he would have been in the mix a lot sooner. Sure enough, Mealer was not very good, although he at least did get the snapping part of the job right, as Thunder has noted.

    As others have noted, it's also a red flag that, despite Mealer's inadequacy, Miller barely sniffed the field last year. When a clearly inadequate player doesn't get replaced, it means the replacements are a lot worse. If they're only slightly worse, the coaches will usually give them a try, because practice gets you only so far, in terms of predicting game performance.

    Finally, it's a red flag that Miller's main competition is a walk-on. It's bad enough that a walk-on is in the two-deep. When a walk-on is challenging a scholarship player to start, the flag is more like a ten-foot-high blinking neon sign. You can't miss it. On top of that, Glasgow's natural position is at guard. Walk-on or not, he probably wouldn't be snapping if Michigan had normal depth at center.

    Regarding walk-ons: yeah, I realize that sometimes a walk-on goes on to be a star. But even Jason Kovacs, the most recent example, was a liability the first year he played (admittedly, under the worst defensive coaching in recent memory). And cases like Kovacs are not common.

    1. Completely agree with this. I would add that, even if a guy doesn't play, you want to hear praise from coaches. Coaches will praise almost everyone, so if a guy is rarely mentioned (or if asked specifically about a player all they can say is he is "working hard" and "improving") that is code for: needs to get much better. I'd put Magnuson and Bars in the same category as Miller a year ago - little to no buzz.

      The lack of buzz doesn't doom them to failure long-term, but it's not a good sign. They're already behind. Contrast that with how much hype Braden and Kalis are getting. Most Michigan fans consider it a foregone conclusion that these two will be better than a 4-year starter like Omameh, yet they haven't seen the field yet. Contrast to the hype that Kugler (already mentioned as a stand-out amongst freshman by Hoke) and Bosch have gotten.

      There's definitely a long history of guys who weren't quite ready for prime time until their 4th or 5th year and then became solid starters (Will Campbell is one recent example). But Michigan can't afford to wait for that with Miller. He has to be ready now, and if he isn't it might mean pushing a true freshman like Kugler into the lineup.

  6. This reminds me of the 2010 season, when we were hearing in August how Mark Moundros might legitimately be in the mix to play linebacker. I remember thinking "holy shit, we are totally screwed" when I heard that. The tea leaves aren't reading good on this one.